In order for us to be our most productive, we must use our time in the most efficient manner. One way to focus our attention is to be intentional about what we are doing, as opposed to operating in cruise-control. Often our tasks are so routine that we tend to carry them out on auto-pilot, but this is not very efficient.
Have you ever stopped your computer work to check your email, and before you know it, you find yourself watching funny cat videos? That’s auto-pilot kicking in, a state of “unintenionalness”. You intended to take a short break from your work to see if you had any pressing emails, but an email from your buddy linked you to the web to read a funny story, and the links at the bottom of the page led you down a spiral of “unproductiveness”. What you expected would take a minute or two has now sucked 20 or 30 minutes out into the voids of space, never to be retrieved. If this happens to you more than a couple of times a day, you are wasting a huge portion of your day without really giving it much thought.
So how do you get out of that rut? Be intentional about everything you do, from the moment you wake up until you are ready to retire for the day. Make a plan, form a routine, develop habits that are intentional and lead you onto the next task.
Before you set upon a task, decide how you will approach it. Decide if you’ll take breaks, whether or not you’ll need to check emails. Now execute your task intentionally. As you proceed through your task, envision the remaining portion of the task being completed at the rate you are currently working. You can estimate how long it will take to finish. If you had decided that you would take a break, stop and plan out what you will work on after this task is completed.
Know beforehand what you will be doing after you have finished your task. By planning your transition from one task to the next, you decrease your unintentional time. By eliminating unproductive time during your workday, you can take advantage of more time at the end of the day to plan out the next day. Knowing that you have your next day planned out helps you to relax and enjoy your evenings and sleep better.
Being intentional need not be limited to your work day. An intentional person in one who always seems to get his/her tasks done, seems to always have a plan, is calm and collected and in charge. By being intentional, you’ll find that others around you (coworkers, family members, friends) will increasingly see you as a leader. Start today to be intentional and experience life in control.